Whether you are stuck in a line, waiting at the airport, or on a long cross-country road trip, entertainment for any children traveling with you is a must. Regardless of the situation, from classroom to waiting room, there is a myriad of choices available.
Play a deductive reasoning game, board game, or word game that challenges kids to tell a silly story. The best thing about the options below is that most of them take little to no preparation.
1. Piggyback Story
If you have to wait for a long period of time, have one person in the group start a story thread. You can begin with three sentences. The story is then passed to the next individual. Challenge the kids to keep it going and to add in characters and details.
Learn more: I Can Teach My Child
2. I Spy
A favorite waiting game for kids everywhere, I Spy can be played with zero prep and in any situation. Start with the signature phrase, "I Spy" and descriptive detail. If you are traveling in a moving vehicle, find something ahead of you in the distance rather than the blue car zooming past.
Learn more: Empowered Parents
3. Dots and Boxes
Another classic game is dots and boxes. All you need to get started is paper and a writing utensil. Create the board and take turns connecting two dots. The goal is to close a box and capture that space. For younger players, start with a smaller playing grid.
Learn more: Great Schools
4. Tic Tac Toe
A favorite go-to game for parents everywhere, Tic Tac Toe can be played on paper, using straws and condiment packets, or digitally. Challenge your opponent to see who can go on the longest winning streak.
Learn more: Play Tic Tac Toe
5. Would You Rather
At the top of the list of fun games for road trips, a game of would you rather offers kids two choices. These can be fun, easy, or ridiculous. For older children, up the ante with some gross options like would, you rather eat a worm or a spider?
Learn more: The Best Ideas for Kids
6. What's Missing
Stuck at the airport? Take everyday items from your purse and them out on a table or the floor. Give the kids time to look everything over. Then, have them close their eyes. Take one item away and make them guess which item is gone.
Learn more: The Pragmatic Parent
7. Guess the Animal
Have the kids ask questions about an animal about which you are thinking. For younger children, keep the questions simple yes/no ones. You can also offer some helper questions to start. For example, have them ask first if it lives on land. Increase the stakes by offering chocolate chips for the correct guess.
Learn more: How Wee Learn
You can play this on paper listing all the categories. If you are on the road, have the kids take turns answering with one item at a time. Categories are up to your imagination. You can also increase the challenge by requiring all answers to start with the same letter.
Learn more: The Game Gal
This fun tapping game has each player start with one finger pointed at each hand. The first player touches one of the other player's hands thereby transferring the number of fingers up to their opponent. Play proceeds back and forth until one player's hand has all five fingers extended.
Learn more: Playworks
10. Rock, Paper, Scissors
Rock, Scissors, Paper is a classic game that even adults use to decide who has to do an unpleasant task. You can use it to entertain bored children in long lines. Extend the activity by having the kids make up a new motion with rules to add to the game.
Learn more: World Rock Paper Scissors Association
11. Mouth It
When noise levels are an issue while you are waiting, you can play mouth it. One person begins by mouthing a short three or four-word sentence. The other players take turns trying to guess what they are mouthing.
Learn more: I Adore What I Love
Get your body in action with this classic, fun idea. Each player takes a turn acting out a word or phrase. The remaining players all try to guess what the actor is doing. You assist younger players with helper questions or hints.
Learn more: Brightful
13. Five Things
Start sharing with this list-making game. Asks students for ideas for things to list. You can use this to develop socio-emotional skills by having the kids list five things they think are funny or that make them mad.
Learn more: The Genius of Play
14. Two Truths and a Lie
15. ABC Game
The ABC game is a summertime road trip classic. Everyone in the vehicle looks for the letter A, then you move on from there until you finish the entire alphabet.
Learn more: Instructables Living
16. Thumb War
Clasp hands at the fingers. Then, counting off while switching thumbs back and forth to the side of each other. The game begins with the declaration, "One, two, three, four. I declare a thumb war." The goal is to trap your opponent's thumb without letting go of their hand.
Learn more: Rules of Sport
17. Geography Game
Several variations of this game exist. One fun version that takes up a good period of time while traveling is to have children name countries or states starting with the first letter in the alphabet.
Learn more: Effective Courage
18. Sweet or Sour
Interact with other travelers while in line or driving on vacation. Wave or smile at people. Keep track of who waves back to see if you have more "sweets" or "sours."
Learn more: Wesh
19. Tongue Twisters
Print out a list of tongue twisters to have ready when the trip gets too long and the whining begins. Challenge the kids to see who can say them the fastest without messing up the rhyme.
Learn more: Everything Mom
Play a deductive reasoning game and have fun at the same time. Have one child start doing an imitation of a celebrity or a family member. Everyone tries to guess who the mystery person is.
Learn more: You are Mom
21. Road Trip Songs
No road trip would be complete without a playlist. Make a kid-friendly one with which to sing along. You can choose fun songs or educational ones. Either way, a short playlist can take up an extended period of time on the road.
Learn more: Insider Living
22. Trick Questions
23. 20 Questions
Increase communication and pass the time while waiting anywhere with this old standard. One player thinks of a person, place, or thing. The other player(s) have twenty questions to try to guess the answer.
Learn more: JC Families
24. Word Chain Games
Word chain games have many variations. One of the more popular is to pick a category. For example, with the category "movies," the first player says Aladdin. The next player has to state a movie with a title starting with the letter "n."
Learn more: Word Finder
25. Rhyming Game
Pick a word. Take turns naming a word that rhymes. The last kid to have a matching rhyme gets to start the next round of play.
Learn more: Unplugged Family Time
26. Toss and Add
You can do this one as a card name game or an adding game. Randomly spread a deck of cards. Have the kids toss pennies, pieces of candy, or whatever you have handy onto the cards. They can identify the number, spell the number word or add up the numbers.
Learn more: Bambini Travel
27. Scavenger Hunt
Create a scavenger hunt. This can be as simple as everyday items you might see anywhere. You can also tailor the list to the particular trip you are on or the place you will be waiting. For example, have a two-hour layover? Make an airport-themed scavenger hung sheet.
Learn more: Mom's Mini Van
28. Mad Libs
Everyone loves a made-up story. It's even better when it quickly becomes a silly story as you fill in the blanks. This is where Mad Libs come into play. You can buy premade books, download a printable or create your own based on your trip or situation.
Learn more: The Inquisitive Mom